As is the case with every advanced cuisine, Japanese culinary culture involves a staggering variety of sophisticated utensils for preparing and consuming food. Having to work mostly with raw fish and vegetables at a very quick pace, Japanese chefs have developed specialised knives that help them prepare elaborate dishes fast and in a way that is as satisfying to eat as it is to look at. There are at least 50 different kinds of cooking knifes in the Japanese chef’s arsenal, each made of an alloy of steel and iron and sharpened to perfection using century-old techniques that hail back to the art of medieval sword smiths. One of Japan’s most esteemed manufacturers of hand-forged knives is Tadafusa, a third-generation company situated in Tsubame-Sanjo, itself a blacksmithing town with over 300 years of history. For its new factory showroom, Tadafusa enlisted the services of Japanese designer Yusuke Seki, who proposed an original, highly efficient and almost theatrical approach in the way the knives are presented.
Occupying a space adjacent to the Tadafusa factory, the new showroom and shop welcomes visitors to discover the company’s collection of professional knives and cutting boards. An adjustable shelving system featuring a lattice-like pattern was custom-designed by Seki’s studio and made by local artisans, allowing the showroom to change its configuration based on the items on display. Meanwhile, the shelves themselves were placed behind a screen of sliding glass panes: this setup was conceived as a blown up version of the typical knife display case usually found in kitchen supply stores, one that the visitor has to physically enter in order to approach the items inside. As the designers convey in a press statement, this dissolves the safety distance between the user and the deadly knife, but also creates a shrine-like space of reverence, reminiscent of the elevated platforms seen in Japanese temples. Meanwhile, one of the factory’s external blue walls was kept intact and incorporated into the interior design, blending the location’s industrial character with the refined lightness of the woodwork and the knives themselves.